You may have noticed an old friend sneak back into the refrigerator cases at our Bikram studios: Zico coconut water in the Tetra packs, and in the old flavors, mango and passion fruit. It appears good old consumer sentiment has scored a bit of a victory on this front. The “new” Zico was not welcomed with enthusiasm on all fronts — like ours — and for a time we replaced it with Vita Coco.
Our objections were the plastic bottles, because just about the last thing the world needs is more of those, the new stronger flavors and the use of concentrate instead of pure coconut water. The company is not publicly backtracking on any of these issues, responding to complaints on its Facebook page with posts like this: “We simply ran into a shortage due a big increase of awesome ZICO drinkers! We’ve ramped up production and have begun to fill the shelves starting in NYC and then rest of the USA.”
This does not explain why they would have supply problems for the old Zico and not the new variety (they are both supposed to be coconut water. Hard to believe they ran out of mango) and they are still touting the plastic bottle as a “green” option because it is recyclable. But because studies have estimated that only about 12 percent of plastic bottles get recycled, we simply cannot share their enthusiasm for plastic.
It seems likely that the new Zico has returned to placate unhappy customers. There is some evidence that sales of the “new” Zico weren’t going well, like untouched new displays in local stores and the fact that Amazon just launched a 25-percent-off sale.
The return of the old flavors and old packaging is the good news. The bad news is, the new old Zico does not taste exactly like the old, old Zico. It has a bit more of an artificial taste than it used to. Clearly, we have not reverted completely back to the good old days before Coca-Cola got involved in the brand.
But it is a reminder that consumers do have power. Coca-Cola had to backtrack on “New Coke” once too. Wallets speak much louder than words.